Sunday, November 8, 2015

November Teaching Secrets

I don't know about y'all, but I'm so glad I'm officially over the Back to School madness. We're far enough into the year that I feel like I've started to hit a groove: all fall happenings (Meet the Teacher, Fall Conferences, and Open House, oh my!) are crossed off the list, those relationships with my students are really starting to develop, and my evenings no longer feel like a mad scramble.

And, more importantly, the upcoming breaks are on the horizon. Hallelujah.

Anyway, I jumped at the chance to talk about November secrets with Kelly Anne from Appleslices and Martina from The Hungry Teacher. They're seriously some of my favorite Instagram inspiration (and comic relief). Also, not only am I totally jealous of Kelly Anne's recent gorgeous travels to Boston and Martina's totally brave jump from 5th to 6th grade (talk about my big teaching goal!), but I'm also enamored with the idea of sharing how I plan to survive enjoy 5th grade until break.

Talk about total excitement over here.

Keep reading for my ideas and to enter to win an Amazon Gift Card and some amaaaaazing products. Happy November, friends!

First up, I have to state the obvious.

Crazy holiday season means I can totallyyyyy engage my fifthies by using some seasonally-themed products.

Like, my kiddos were so into our simile and metaphor review using some turkeys and coloring.

We also loved using this freebie to introduce Main Idea with articles about Thanksgiving, Veteran's Day, and football from 24/7 Teacher and ReadWorks.

(PS If you haven't discovered ReadWorks or 24/7 Teacher's engaging articles yet, add that to your to-do list ASAP!)

I also plan to have the kids make their own word search using vocabulary we've been studying, and using a fictional review foldable to totally enjoy Balloons over Broadway for our #classroombookaday. And, time permitting, we'll create our own football player and use figurative language to describe him.

Seriously, seasons make the best inspiration. #amiright

It's November, we've been in our school routine for a bit, and a good chunk of my kids are getting restless with the option of reading as an early finisher activity.

So, this is the month I bust out what I call one of the best TPT purchases I've ever made: Rachel Lynette's Word Link Cards.

Seriously, my fifthies LOVE these. I had to snap a quick picture of two precious girlies completely engaged with these cards while some classmates finished a test.

The challenge is figuring out what word links all three of the terms on the card together. In other words, what word could you put before or after each of the listed terms to create new (and sensible) things? For example, the card shown has "seat," "fan," and "leather." The girls figured out the answer is "belt" since the words on the card become "seatbelt," "fan belt," and "leather belt." Even my kiddos who can't sit still longer than a second and a half are completely mesmerized by this activity.

SO much fun and SUCH a sanity saver for this teacher!

Hence why I save this early finisher activity for this time of year. ;)

In the midst of all these classroom hints, I do have to advocate for my favorite sanity saver.

Food planning.

Such a old-lady sounding topic, yeah?


But regardless, making my lunches every Sunday and menu planning for the week ahead totally saves my butt.

If you're needing a swift kick in the rear for convincing, check out my Instagram (where I post my weekly lunches and, if I'm extra caffeinated that week, whatever dinner recipes were faaaantastic) and my menu planning blog (where I actually just list out the links of what I'm making). And, if you're interested, I use these containers for my lunches.

I may have some long or rough days of teaching, but at least I can celebrate that I'm not having the what's-for-dinner freak out. And, the whole eating well and cooking totally helps me with my #5 tip below.

One word: Playdoh.

This time of year, we're learning Greek and Latin Roots, as well as -DUH - continuously reviewing for standardized testing.

To shake things up, I introduce Playdoh spelling.

Why let the little kids have all the fun?

And, at this point in the year, I have enough student relationships and behavior management developed that breaking out Playdoh wouldn't turn into a complete circus.

I have laminated vocabulary mats with various Language Arts vocabulary terms and Greek and Latin roots that the kids choose to use playdoh to spell.

Talk about total engagement.

Take a peek at the packs I use to make this happen here and here.

 And my last sanity saver? Two weeks ago, I not only deleted my school email from my phone, but I challenged myself not to check my school email past 5PM.

Such a game changer. I'm not able to completely turn off my teacher brain, but separating myself from my email really does help me leave work at work.

This month I'm continuing to challenge myself to actively pursue balance. Because let's be real: I need myself to be at my best, since I consider the first semester of school to be the worst.

Go love on yourself, friends!

And speaking of love, click below to enter our lovely giveaway, and check out the lovely Martina and Kelly Anne to hear their love and wisdom.

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Friday, October 16, 2015

Five for Friday 10/16

Hi y'all!

Welcome to my week!
It was a tad crazy with Picture Day and Indoor Recess and subs (oh my!), but I smile thinking at all the progress we've made since the beginning of school.

Progress, not perfection, friends!

(See the post HERE on my Instagram - let's be friends!)

In my effort to continuously strive to recognize all the AMAZING things happening in our room, I started a VIP table this week! I bought some cool supplies (like, smelly markers and twistable crayons) and some seat cushions for the table before talking to the kids about expectations.

We talked about if you have a love letter written to you at the front of the room, you have access to the VIP table for that class period. My two classes loved it! And I loveeee spending the first few minutes after school writing my love letters for the next day. It ends the day on SUCH a good note!

Plus I've already had kids talk about how they hung their note up in their room. :)

 Snag the freebie printable I use to send love notes to my kids HERE!

 All I'm going to say is it's October, and this freebie has been saving my behind making test prep more, ahem, disguised.

Anyone else do this activity?

So much fun to introduce that "strange word schema," as my fifthies put it.

We talked about Pioneer Woman cookbooks, five chapsticks, a Sonic receipt ("Ms. L asks for extra ice!!"), a University of Texas dog jersey, and swim equipment.

Buuuuuuuuuut, it's all fun and games until you find the pictures of you setting up for the lesson. 

Regrets: teaching the fifthies how to use the class camera.


I totally plan ahead on food.

It makes life that much easier for me.

And easier to avoid daily Sonic runs.

(Picture from my Instagram - let's be friends!)

I love making my adult "lunchables" on Sundays. 

Like, every Sunday.

And I love planning my weekly meals for the week. I document it online, if you want to peek. I find that I'm much more chill if I make time to cook and eat good food.

It's my favorite way to decompress from school.

Except for swimming, of course.

Because sometimes, not even food can get that one thing out of my head. 

It's my continuous quest to be that balanced teacher. ;)

 And lastly, my drawers wanted to remind you --

Today's Fri-YAY!

(Bottom six drawers are how I organize my copies. The top two drawers are how my Morning and Afternoon class turn in assignments. Labels found HERE. Full classroom tour HERE.)

Happy weekend, y'all!!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Five for Friday 10/2

Can't wait to link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for my first Five for Friday on an ACTUAL Friday! 

I just love October - not only is it Fall and I'm getting thissssss much closer to wearing leggings, but school is starting to hit more of a groove. In other words, I can actually link up on Friday!

So excited to actually share some not-so-stellar details about Columbus with my fifthies! I just finished this pack to practice context clues and paragraph writing and I can't wait to photograph it in action!

Anyone else love to use Pixar Shorts as formative assessments and minilessons for fiction?

Our favorites have been Partly Cloudy, Tin Toy, and For the Birds.

Uploading this pack soon! 

It's been an amazing way to see who totally gets a concept and who needs some small group time. 

We've been doing a Book a Day Challenge (inspired by the incredible Literacy for Big Kids) and I'm IN LOVE. I've challenged myself to use at least one read aloud a day to introduce, review, or check in on a concept. Afterwards, a picture of the cover gets hung in the hallway (we're displaying our goal of reading 120 books in the hallway) and the book gets put on our Read Aloud shelf.

Our shelf is starting to overflow! 
(PS Let's be friends on Instagram. Or click the pictures to see the original post.)

I love our hallway bulletin. I won't have to take anything down until the end of the year! The kids love seeing the covers and reminiscing on "that one time we read that." ;)

Also, I love this read aloud quote that I've hung amongst our covers. Nothing like research to back up the Book a Day Challenge!

For those that want to nab the quote, find it here!

We did SO great at working hard during fiction, that we did a brain break to learn about drawing Pigeon! It was such a hit --- even with my "big, bad" fifth graders!

We followed step by step - and made several Pigeons so that we could see with more practice, we could get better and better. AKA I was trying to expand on our Growth Mindset chat we had earlier. ;)

Aaaaand then a mom emailed me this photo late last night to say her son was teaching the whole family at dinner how to draw Pigeon.


I love parent emails like that.

And to take my lunch making obsession to the next level, I've found the perfect containers for me to premake some lunches on Sundays. 

AKA I've found a new happy place.

Follow me on Instagram.
I totally post every week my lunch packs.

It helps me remember what I actually like to eat in my lunches.

Because nothing's worse than bringing food to school that I hypothetically liked, but actually wont touch.

Ahem, those carrot sticks.

Anyone else out there a picky eater?
I eat like a five year old.

And, I shamelessly snack alllllll day.